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Irish Cup Final: Harry Gregg all smiles as Foundation paves way to success

By Steven Beacom

Northern Ireland and Manchester United legend Harry Gregg has spoken of his 'immense pride' that the Foundation set up in his name will be taking 130 children to Saturday's Irish Cup final between Linfield and Coleraine at Windsor Park.

Gregg's first two clubs were the Blues and the Bannsiders before he went on to star for his country in the 1958 World Cup finals and become an icon at Old Trafford. The 84-year-old won't be attending the game, but is delighted that his Foundation is ensuring that so many youngsters will be there.

"I'd love to be there myself but it's brilliant that all these young people are going to the Cup final," said Gregg, once considered the best goalkeeper on the planet.

"I feel immensely proud that over 100 children connected to the Foundation will be at Windsor Park to see a big match between two of my old teams. I started my career at Linfield before coming back to my hometown club Coleraine and then moving on to England."

Gregg was a key figure in Coleraine's last Cup final success in 2003 as a valued friend and mentor to then boss Marty Quinn, as well as being an inspiration to the players. He is well aware how much Saturday's final means to the supporters who endured some tough times in the years that followed due to the club's financial problems.

"I am so pleased for the Coleraine supporters who have followed the club through thick and thin. I really am glad the team is in the final. The last time Coleraine won the Cup I was there and it was a wonderful day.

"It will be a tough match for Coleraine because David Healy has done exceptionally well at Linfield and has got them going again.

"I have to say I have a lot of admiration for the way he has gone about things since becoming manager at Linfield. What he has done there, winning the title this season, should not be underestimated."

Gregg was filled with joy last weekend when his grandson Harry (6), son of former Institute boss and respected coach John, led out the Coleraine team with captain David Ogilby ahead of the final league game of the season against Ballymena United.

Thousands of children like Harry junior, who is in the Coleraine FC Academy, are benefitting from the Harry Gregg Foundation which has been doing outstanding work since its formation in 2015.

Chairman of the Harry Gregg Foundation Andy Alcorn said: "The Harry Gregg Foundation has become enormous.

"It is an umbrella group and within that we administer Coleraine FC Academy working on behalf of the football club, run the Youth League and do lots in the community with social inclusion and education.

"It has been a huge success. Our small-sided games centre is what we call our flagship and it runs at Ulster University in Coleraine every Saturday morning. We have 140 different teams registered to that centre from right across an area from Derry/Londonderry to Ballycastle to Ballymena to Magherafelt and pretty much everywhere that lies in between.

"On any given Saturday morning we will turn over 5,000 people at the University. "We will be taking 130 kids to the Cup final and are all looking forward to a great day out and hopefully a Coleraine victory.

"It's absolutely brilliant to be involved with a legend like Harry. As everyone knows he is a straight talker and he has a heart of gold.

"He is wonderful with the kids and is a great ambassador for the Foundation and Northern Ireland."

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